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Trumpeter 1/72 J-20 Mighty Dragon Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2011 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject J-20 Mighty Dragon Scale 1/72
Kit Number 1663 Primary Media Styrene, photo-etch
Pros First styrene kit of this subject in this scale; very nice detailing throughout Cons Not in 1/48 scale
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $35.95

First Look


The Chinese aircraft industry has made significant technology advances thanks to the production work they perform for many aerospace companies around the world. The Sukhoi Design Bureau was quite surprised to see the Shenyang J-11 which is a copy of the Su-27SK enter flight test and followed quickly by the J-15 which is the Su-27K naval Flanker copy due to enter service for China's refurbished Russian aircraft carrier. A similar development came in the form of the J-10 which is very similar to the IAI Lavi fighter. With the F-22 Raptor in service and the F-35 Lightning II under development, is was no surprise that China sought its own Stealth Fighter capability.

The Chengdu J-20 entered full-scale development in the late 1990s and looks like a hybrid of an F-22 Raptor and the notional MiG-31 Firefox. The aircraft is a twin-engined, twin-tailed design that uses a similar wing planform as the J-10/Lavi complete with canards for pitch control. The long boxy airframe is similar in concept to the F-22 and F-35 with internal weapons bays and deflective surfaces for decreased radar cross-section. It appears that the aircraft is intended to be a strike aircraft that can defend itself rather than a highly maneuverable fighter.

Trumpeter wasted no time in releasing this kit a mere nine months after the J-20's first flight. The kit is designed in 1/72 scale and presented on six parts trees plus a single fret of photo-etched parts. Three of the trees are molded in black styrene, one in light gray, one in white, and one in clear. Two of the trees, the gray and one black are duplicates with Trumpeter providing you with the choice of a gray or black cockpit should you opt to build this model without painting.

So let's get to the features:

  • Nice cockpit with decals for the multi-function displays
  • Detailed ejection seat with photo-etched belts/harness
  • Sidestick and throttle included
  • Positionable canopy
  • Detailed wheel wells
  • Movable vertical stabs
  • Drogue shoot canister provided open
  • Plastic tires molded separately from wheel hubs (nice!)
  • Engine nozzles provided in closed position

Face it, by definition this is going to be a simple build because 1) the kit is 1/72; and 2) how much detail can Trumpeter put into a kit of a new prototype aircraft without giving away state secrets? Overall length is roughly 12 inches long.

Markings are provided for the prototype (there are two J-20s reportedly built - 2001-01 and 2001-02).

This is a nice looking model that could only be better had it been released in 1/48 scale (sorry, I'm biased) and should definitely make for an interesting display next to the Zvezda 1/72 T-50.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review copy!